December 2017 Issue : Hydraulic seals battle extreme cold – Robots and fluid power + more


At first blush, the industrial robotics market doesn’t appear to be a place for fluid power. Walk through an industrial trade show, and you’ll see a multitude of Delta, SCARA, Cartesian and other types of robots busy demonstrating their skills. And each of them is run by electric drives— certainly not hydraulics or pneumatics.

But a closer look will show that fluid power technology is making inroads. Pneumatic grippers and vacuum cups are becoming more commonplace as end-of-arm tooling options. Soft robotics, which often use compressed air to grab or move, is becoming a whole new industry segment. And a story last year about an MIT lab that had 3D printed a single piece hydraulic robot garnered a lot of attention across the globe.

I’ve been at several conference and meetings over the past year where fluid power manufacturers have stressed that they see opportunity in the growing field of robotics, and they don’t want to let the chance slip by.

Our sister publication, Design World, has long covered robotics technology. But we’ve seen this industry explode in importance, and I’m happy to tell you a little about how we’re expanding our coverage in the New Year.

Several months back, our parent company purchased The Robot Report (, a well-respected online portal that covers a little bit of everything in this space: AI, industrial robots, service robots, vision and sensing, drones and autonomous vehicles—even startups and funding. The Robot Report also features a fascinating interactive global map tied to a comprehensive database of public and private companies in the robotics field.

Paul HeneyWhat’s more, we’re very excited about an event launch tied into this acquisition. The inaugural Robotics Summit & Showcase will be held May 23-24, 2018 at the Westin Boston Waterfront. This dynamic event will include presentations on cutting-edge, proven robotic applications and techniques, and will give you the opportunity to network with the brightest entrepreneurs, top engineering minds, and major investors as they implement robotics solutions across multiple sectors. Conference tracks will focus on automation, drones, healthcare/surgical, service, autonomous technology, industrial, logistics/warehousing, and AI. Details are at I hope to see you there in May, as we investigate some new opportunities for fluid power.



  1. William K. says:

    Of course, because not all applications are the same! But there is usually a conflict between which technology is the best for an application, opposed to which is the cheapest or easiest to apply. Some applications require vacuum grippers, and nothing else, even though there is no vacuum source conveniently available. And in some instances the gentle grip of pneumatics is far better than adding a programmable force sensing electronic servo system. The reality is that a lot more knowledge and understanding is required to make the best system for some applications. Engineers need to have a broad knowledge base to be able to deliver the best creations. But that has been obvious to some of us for many years.

  2. William K. says:

    I hope for your success in spreading the knowledge that there are many benefits from using pneumatics and hydraulics.

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